Jocelyn Bain Hogg
“I met a few of them while I was taking fashion pictures, they were always around the models. But the truly big chance to widen my contacts was in Tenerife, Canary Islands: there were 140 of them, taking a vacation.” It seems like everything happened by chance, but Bain Hogg’s idea to talk about the English Underworld isn’t new. Since back in the 60s the Krais Family, one of the Firm pillars, a criminal organization, rose to the glossy and glamorous Vogue’s pages.
Bain Hogg found them again in the 90s, the criminals from the London’s East End, the same ones that inspired movies as Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch. He was taking pictures for Elle when he met by chance Dave Courtney, who at the time was fully dedicated to lecturing at conferences on his past life as a murderer. Jocelyn quickly understand that there’s an entire unknown world behind this man, a hidden society many people have heard about but that only a few had a chance to peep in.
“The project grew on its own. I’m a photo reporter, and while chatting, drinking and having fun I took pictures and told the life of these criminals.” Jocelyn and his camera had to be accepted in the underworld, his sincerity was the key. “I never denied myself nor tried to be different from what I’m in my world. I gave them a chance to be seen but, and that’s fundamentally important, I made them understand that I would never betray their secrets. If I had shot one of those bloody outlaw bare knuckle fights or worse, talked about one of those encounters that I witnessed but that never happened, I may not be here to talk about.” Jocelyn kept his mouth shut all the time, and so doing was richly rewarded with a continuous flow of situations and images that depicted a tr ue life in front of his Leica. “After a while everybody knew about me, but many times they weren’t even aware of my discreet presence. That’s how I gave my images such a intimate feeling.” The project lasted two years, it was mainly a good time even if some accidents happened: “Not everybody wanted to be photographed, and seeing me around with a camera was enough to start a quarrel.”
All that time and hundreds of Tri-X rolls didn’t change Jocelyn. “Maybe I’m a bit more cynical now, but I surely kept those people outside of my life: they’re criminals. Someday I might want to have a beer with some of them, but none are my best buddies. Many of my friends have been scared about my frequent interactions for the time I worked on the project, even though some saw a glamorous side. My mother, whom I dedicated the book to, never asked me a thing, but I’m sure she would have preferred me to be a fashion photographer.”
Now that The Firm is published, Jocelyn Bain Hogg is not considering going back to fashion to pay his bills. He has a couple of new projects that he is working on. The first one is about daily life in London and the second one is on women, the sweetness of women. “I don’t think I’ll invent a new way to pictures women, but I’d like to talk about them and their lives. If I approach them close enough, which I proved I can do very well, soon you’ll see something about women that you never realized existed. And from the intimacy of the picture you’ll recognize an authentic Bain Hogg”.
all images © Jocelyn Bain Hogg
Buy The Firm.
Buy Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, with Guy Ritchie and Jason Flemyng, DVD.
Buy Snatch, with Brad Pitt and Guy Ritchie, DVD.